Helen E. Staruk died peacefully early Thursday morning, June 4, at her home in Vineyard Haven. She was 96. The cause of death was congestive heart failure.

The daughter of Polish immigrants Agnes and Vincent Pilot, Helen was born on May 10, 1919 in Passaic, N.J. She was one of six children. Helen attended Passaic High School and Miller’s Business College in Paterson, N.J. She married Edward Staruk in 1943 and they were married for 48 years. He predeceased her in 1991.

Newly married and living in New York city, Helen’s husband was teaching at Palmer Academy when he answered an ad for a teacher/coach position on Martha’s Vineyard. He had to get a map to locate the Vineyard and he got the job. They arrived in 1944 and spent two glorious years on the Vineyard and then moved on to Worcester where their three daughters were born, Susan and twins Diane and Joyce.

In 1954 the family moved to Framingham where Helen worked as an executive secretary at the U.S. Army Natick Research and Development Command for 30 years. Upon retirement in 1987 she and Ed were delighted to return to the Island to be closer to their daughter Joyce.

Helen took great pride in Joyce’s children, Calla, born in 1988, and Edward, born in 1990. Besides her husband, she was predeceased by two of her daughters, Susan Staruk in 2009 and Diane Staruk Phillips in 2012.

She gained great strength in life through her faith. Her death was as gentle as her life. Helen was a selfless soul, always seeing the best in others; a gentle soul, genuinely kind, asking for little and giving so much.

Helen will be remembered as a gracious hostess, an artist with her knitting needles, a skilled baker and an avid fan of sports and jigsaw puzzles. She was a charming, buoyant, patient, and loving mother and grandmother. Her motto was simple and clear—“If you really want to do it you can.”

She is survived by her daughter Joyce Staruk, four grandchildren, Calla Staruk Gillies, Edward Staruk Gillies, and their father Kenneth Gillies; Cody and wife Ali Phillips, Tony Phillips and their father Charlie Phillips; and many nieces and nephews.

She also leaves behind her sister, Jean Pilot, who is 103 and lives in Bloomfield, N.J.

The family wishes to thank Helen’s longtime doctor Henry Nieder and Chantale Duguay of Hope Hospice for the excellent care they gave her.

A graveside service will be held on Sunday, June 21 at noon in Sacred Heart Cemetery on Vineyard Avenue in Oak Bluffs.